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Ll: Unrelenting Rap

February 16, 1986|CONNIE JOHNSON

"RADIO." LL Cool J. Columbia. LL Cool J ( ne James Todd Smith) is an 18-year-old songwriter who's a vital member of New York's second generation of rap artists. Though he grew up listening to Kurtis Blow and Grand Master Flash, LL has honed his own street-poet style and anchored it atop rhythms as unrelenting and mean as the tough inner-city streets that inspired them. He is capable of a withering put-down of the neighborhood sexpot ("Dear Yvette"), and of a sweetly earnest romantic approach ("I Can Give You More"). He can also come up with a ferocious beat that jolts you with the impact of a battering ram ("Rock the Bells," "I Need a Mix"). This isn't party music for the faint-hearted.

Seen briefly in the recent movie "Krush Groove," LL has the presence and flair to take rap to a broader level of acceptance. On the tracks "You Can't Dance," "That's a Lie," and "El Shabazz" (the latter not listed on the LP credits), LL's razor-sharp wit alone puts him a cut above many of his peers in the rap arena.

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